At the very last moment before she totally succumbed, golden lights like fireflies drifted through the mist and landed on her outstretched hand. Then they gathered and formed a large orb of golden light which catapulted straight at the misty faerie. She shrieked, as her true self was revealed. This was no faerie at all, but some evil creature with black eyes and leathery wings.
I hit the mossy ground hard. The beast, now devoid of all life was spiraling out of control and heading, face first straight toward the spot where I had landed. I could hear its wings whistling through the sky as it plummeted earthward. I knew I would be crushed if I didn’t move fast but my brain wasn’t sending the message to my legs so I just sat there, watching the large, bulky body growing ever larger. Blocking out more and more of the sparkling orbs as it fell.
I was jerked, unceremoniously, behind a towering oak tree at the last minute. The lifeless body of the enormous creature hit the ground hard, making a huge crater in the soft earth. The impact shook the surrounding forest like a bomb, sending dirt and debris flying in every direction.
“Whoa!” I shook my head and rotated my shoulder. The feeling was beginning to return causing it to ache and throb. “I could have been totally smashed!” A young woman with long fiery red hair stepped out from behind the tree and stood by my side. “Yeah, you really could have. Good thing I dropped by.”
I jumped back at the sound of another human voice. Keeping a small bush between us (I don’t really know what protection a small bush would afford but it was all I had) I stared at the stranger in shock and amazement. “Who are you!? And where did you come from?” I was having a hard time keeping the stress of my recent brush with death out of my voice. I shook a half closed fist at her. “Don’t come any closer or I’ll, or I’ll…”
“Or you’ll what? She brushed her hair back away from her face and smiled. “Is that any way to say thank you? I just saved your life.”
I pulled up my tattered gown and sat down on a soft patch of moss and indicated for her to sit beside me. “I’m so sorry, I have had a really bad night. Seeing someone else in this forest, alone, gave me a quite a fright. You can’t really trust things to be what they look like in the fairy realm.”
“Oh, I understand, I have had so many adventures that nothing surprises me any more. But I’m not alone.” She leaned back and reached behind a small tree. “You can come out now.” I watched as a small fury creature with large owl eyes and hands that look like they were borrowed from a spider money crawled from under a bush and onto the girls shoulders, wrapping its thick, bushy, tail around her neck. “Let me introduce myself. I am Ember Innocenzi and this is Perhluna, my traveling companion.” Perhluna waggled hello with flat tipped fingers. “As for where we came from…that’s complicated. But I can tell you that we were dropped here by a very accommodating dragon by the name of Illustratia.”
“I’m afraid that you haven’t had a very warm welcome. The faerie realm is a lovely place and the gardens around the queens palace are very peaceful. But the dark wood can be dangerous at night. I think we had better stay put until first light. Maybe Arial will have found us by then.”
I leaned my head against the oak tree and closed my eyes, aware of Ember’s curious stare. Without opening my eyes, I asked the question. “Yes?”
Perhluna disentangled the furry tail and went off in search of something to eat and Ember laid down on her side, propping her head in her hand. “Who is Arial?”
I pictured Arial in my mind and smiled. “Arial is my traveling companion, and so much more.” I wiped a single tear from my cheek. “Formally she is known as Princess Arial, Daughter of Queen Orlaith, the High Queen of the Frost Faeries and ruler of the winter realm.” I opened one eye and glanced over at Ember, who had scrunched her mouth to one side in quizzical disbelief. “Yeah, I know. You have to spend some time in the faerie realm to get the full impact”
We both laughed out loud then clapped our hands over our mouths out of fear that we might attract some deadly attention. Nudging each other back and forth with our shoulders and sniggering softly, we waited for dawn. I knew I had found a new friend.
© Tami Ruesch, The Misty World of Arial Hollyberry, 2009-2010
(Originally posted 2/17/12 on http://fairiefabels.com/2010/02/ember-in-faerie-land/ )